Everyone’s Dream or The Grass is Always Greener?
Every day that you slog to work, dragging your tired body and mind out of bed; stuck in traffic or smashed on a crowded bus; dreading all the emails sitting in your inbox; trying to avoid the boss who can’t be pleased; the disgruntled customer; the coworker who annoys you every time you have to speak to them; and you think to yourself, “If only I could quit this job AND…play golf…or pursue my hobby…or sit around all day and watch TV in my under ware if I want to…or travel the world…or live on the beach…or a million other thoughts that cross your mind, day in and day out over the course of your working life…What would you do if you didn’t have to get up every day and go to work? And you found yourself living temporarily in a foreign country where you didn’t speak the language and couldn’t work?
I know that there are too many people out there, in many corners of the world, who would love to go to work everyday. Millions who are struggling to find a job, where none exists. Millions who are over qualified or under qualified. Laid off. Forced into early retirement without the savings to support oneself or one’s family.
I’m one of the lucky ones, I know. I had a job. I’ve worked all my life…since my first “real” job when I was 14 years old working weekends at the local country club restaurant. I babysat the neighborhood kids even before that. There have been times in my life when I had 3 and 4 jobs at one time. I admit that as much as I may have bitched and moaned about it in the past, I like to work. It provides structure to your day. A sense of accomplishment. Opportunities for improvement. A community of people to interact with each day. Goals. Time management. Comaraderie. Money.
I took a leave of absence from my job when we first came to Rome. I had to resign when we decided to stay on another year. I don’t want to sound ungrateful or to seem like I’m whining (maybe I am just a bit). But, I miss working. I miss the mental challenge. I miss the structure. I miss the companionship. I miss having my own money.
Don’t get me wrong, I do have some structure to my day. I get up every morning and make Michael breakfast and pack his lunch. I go to the palestra (gym). I do the laundry, which in Italia is a chore since we don’t have a dryer (most private homes don’t) and so you can only wash as many clothes in a day as you have room to hang to dry. I keep the apartment clean. I do the shopping and cooking. I even iron Michael’s shirts for him. And while I know these tasks have value, frankly they aren’t very stimulating.
Likely, if you’re reading this, you’re now trying to solve this dilemna for me. You’re thinking, “Why don’t you go to school?” “Have you seen all the sights in Rome?” “How about taking up painting?” “Write a book!” “Teach English” “Volunteer!”
Believe me, I’ve thought all these things myself. Every day. Multiple times a day.
I’ve done a bit of research on expat sites. I’m not the only woman who has put her career on hold and followed her husband so he could work in a foreign land. It seems the solution most women in my situation find is that they need to recreate their work life. Somehow. Work virtually if you can. Teaching English is popular. Writing seems to be big.
I realize the answer for me lies somewhere that I haven’t quite found. Somewhere in between the lines of some catchy phrase. Hidden within a meditation or a prayer. But, I know better. It’s more likely sitting in plain sight, within myself, waiting to be seen.